Supporting Self-Employed With Disabilities

New changes to the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) Existing Business policy will make it easier for self-employed individuals with disabilities to access funds for assistive technology.

With input from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and statewide agricultural groups, the revised policy may allow more farmers and other agribusiness owners to benefit from DVR services. The policy also covers self-employed individuals in other business sectors.

The policy changes expand opportunities for self-employed individuals with disabilities to become eligible to receive DVR services under the Existing Business Policy. This includes money for qualifying assistive technology and access to assistive technology experts.

Developed in 2016, DVR’s Existing Business policy serves as the standard policy DVR staff follow when working with people with disabilities who want to maintain self-employment through their existing business. Revisions to the policy expand the criteria for determining whether a DVR eligible self-employed individual is eligible to receive services under this policy.

“The policy revisions take effect at a crucial time when business owners continue to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Delora Newton, DVR administrator. “These revisions will systematically support more people with disabilities in achieving their job goals and allow DVR to provide enhanced services to Wisconsin business owners to successfully continue their business operations.”

The main revision to the policy allows for broader consideration of business wages that may allow business owners earning less than minimum wage to qualify for services using a debt to asset ratio calculation. In determining DVR eligibility, the new policy also allows outside income, if related to the business, and expenses that may be viewed as assets in subsequent financial periods to be considered.

The revised policy was developed after several workgroup meetings, a statewide public input session, and stakeholder engagement. The policy can be found on DVR’s Existing Business Policy page.

Individuals who wish to apply for DVR services can fill out DVR’s online referral form or contact the DVR administrative office at 608-261-0050 or toll-free at 800-442-3477.